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Jane Austen and the Fiction of Culture: An Essay on the Narration of Social Realities / Edition 1

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With a new introduction by the authors, this paperback edition of Jane Austen and the Fiction of Culture takes the complete body of work of a major novelist as the basis for rethinking ethnographic representation and cross-cultural analysis. Authors Handler and Segal have approached Jane Austen's writing as a source for interpreting the cultural ideology of kinship, social rank, courtship, and marriage in Austen's England. Arguing against the conventional reading of Austen as portrayer and upholder of a well-ordered society, they evaluate the rhetorical techniques that make Austen an effective ethnographer of diverse, though intertwined social realities. They show that Austen undercuts any and all claims to "truth universally acknowledged"—that is, to objective, positive knowledge of human affairs. Jane Austen and the Fiction of Culture invites the reader to confront an ethnography of another time and place whose insights have a direct bearing on contemporary concerns in the humanities and human sciences.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Strathern
This is an extraordinarily stimulating book-not least because the authors require the reader to confront an ethnographer of another time and another place whose own insights translate directly into contemporary concerns. Its core is one of Jane Austen's great insights: that significant observation does not require a vast canvas-it requires, simply but rigorously, the capacity to make what one observes signify..
Handler and Segal approach the writings of Austen as ethnographies of her society. They compare her rhetorical techniques to social theorists of the time such as Burke, Rousseau, and Wollstonecraft. Instead of the conventional reading of Austen as portrayer of a well- ordered society, Handler and Segal argue that her writing was a form of social analysis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847690480
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Handler is professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and is author of Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec. Daniel Segal is professor of anthropology at Pitzer College, Claremont, California.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 A World of Marriage Chapter 3 The Natural, the Civil, and the Unnatural Chapter 4 Family, Connections, and Incest Chapter 5 Hierarchies of Choice Chapter 6 Courting Exchanges and Alter-Cultural Marriages Chapter 7 Creative Dance and the Problem of Theatricality Chapter 8 Narrating Multiple Realities Chapter 9 Dialogue and Translation Chapter 10 But What, Then, of Reality?

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